Monday, 18 February 2008

Constituency week over, roll on Spring...

Well, the three of us having greatly enjoyed a pleasant, if rather random bit of time off with "Constituency Week" last week, it's back to the coalface today! Last week basically involved the house rising for a week so MPs can (in theory) spend a bit more than the customary long weekend in their constituency and the many issues it involves. Damian returned to Ashford a week ago last Thursday and I headed home for a few days for a bit of R&R.

Dom and I particularly enjoyed our jaunt over to Berlin - definitely the home of the best kebabs in the world - so much so that I even spotted a few sober people eating them! I explored a fair bit of the city's communist past, with many an example of soviet-era high rise housing and office blocks, complemented by some particularly chilly communist weather. In fact, great though the city was next time I book a holiday I think I'm going to try and head somewhere just a touch warmer! But particularly nice to be in a city that is very clean, doesnt seem too busy or congested, and where a 45 min train journey from the airport costs 2 euros (compared to £25 for in the UK on the Stansted Express)!

Coming up in this stretch of half term we have a visit of the two Brussels interns, Adrian and Rhiannon, to the UK, where we shall be hosting them in Westminster, and the trip will involve visits to the Foreign Office and the Cabinet Office - coming up in early March. And hot on the heels of these events are the Lib Dem and Tory Spring Conferences - which both Dom and I shall be attending. Both have a northern theme, perhaps in solidarity with the poor plight of Northern Rock (nationalised today by the Chancellor) - the Lib Dems will be partying in Liverpool, and the Tories hit Newcastle-Gateshead, the latter an interesting choice given the scarecity of Tories in that area. We hope all this will change soon though...


Tuesday, 5 February 2008

February at last

It is certainly with a great deal of joy that I now walk to work in noticeably more clement weather, and a fair bit of sunshine as well. Indeed, it does appear that after the bleak January, Spring is truly bouncing onto the scene this month!

The business of parliament is slowing a little at the moment, as MPs prepare for "constituency week" which begins when the house rises on Thursday. For Dom, John and myself, this means a very welcome breather! Im heading home for a few days, which will be great to chill out, catch up with some old friends, and see my dogs again. Plenty of walks out in the fresh air of rural Dorset required methinks - im afraid I dont believe the London version of "fresh air" is up to much!

Dom and I are then heading off to Berlin for a few days, and John is jetsetting through the brand new St Pancras Eurostar terminal for a break in the city of lurve, gay Paree.

I am very keen to see the new terminal actually, and must confess that its relaunch has forced a bit of the closet anorak out in me - Damian went to the grand opening a few months ago, and i am very keen to check out the building restored to its Victorian splendour. Apparently, the inspiration for the shopping concourse is inspired by features of New York's Grand Central Terminal, which i have visited, and is staggering in its scale and grandeur - like Grand Central, St Pancras will soon be boasting a Farmer's Market!

Before I sign off for my half term break, I feel that the Newman House 1st XI Footie Squad deserve a mention on their glorious first victory on Sunday afternoon, featuring the CPI's very own Clare Mary Groom and Dom Berner, who acquitted themselves very well Im told! I shall leave the post-match analysis for another day... im certainly no Alan Hansen.